What rules are hydro opponents breaking?
I don’t know Maurice Emmer or anything about his issue committee, Citizens for Responsible Projects, but I do know a good bit about the campaign tactics that are being used against these opponents of the Castle Creek power-plant project.
It is not worth the effort to pick apart the various absurdities arising from Mayor Mick Ireland’s attempts at character assassination, guilt by association and general obfuscation of any relevant issues surrounding this ballot question. However, misstatement of the laws that apply to issue campaigns is another matter, especially when an elected official with a law degree is purposely misleading the public.
According to Mick, it is wrong of his opponents to use “undisclosed funds in unlimited amounts in complete disregard of local campaign finances rules.” However, as Ireland is well aware, the issue committee Citizens for Responsible Projects was formed for the express purpose of satisfying the campaign finance rules of the state of Colorado and the city of Aspen.
It is unfortunate that current law requires any disclosure whatsoever of contributions for issue campaigns because the threat of retaliation or public ridicule acts as a significant barrier to participation in the electoral process. Regardless, unless Mick has specific information that Emmer is not following the disclosure rules as they currently exist, he is engaged in libel, and it should cease immediately.
In regard to the “unlimited amounts” that are being spent (which I suspect would come as a big surprise to Maurice Emmer), Pitkin County did in fact once have limits on donations and expenditures for issue committees – campaign finance rules that were struck down as being unconstitutional during one of Mick’s terms as county commissioner.
The city of Aspen, to its credit, has never had any such provisions in its charter.
Though he might have neglected to actually consult the city charter during his terms as mayor, I don’t think Ireland either missed or forgot the constitutional battle that led to the removal of county limitations on contributions and expenditures for ballot-issue campaigns. So, as Mick obviously knows, anyone can contribute whatever amount they choose to Citizens for Responsible Projects, they in turn may spend whatever amount they deem necessary, and no one will be disregarding “local campaign finance rules” in the process.
As for the issue itself, it should be evident to Aspen voters that their mayor does not believe that the power-plant project can be defended on its own merits.
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